Hyundai and UTC Fuel Cells have joined forces to develop a new fuel cell power plant capable of operating in freezing conditions – one of the remaining hurdles in the development of hydrogen fuel cell power for road cars.
The two companies will work jointly to develop a freeze-capable fuel cell power plant and integrate it into a Hyundai SUV platform. Hyundai plans to make fuel cell vehicles available for lease by fleet operators in the US by 2004.
Fuel cell power plants, which combine hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity without environmentally harmful emissions, produce and consume water. One key challenge in developing fuel cells for transportation applications is starting fuel cells after the water in a system has frozen.
Dong Jin Kim, President and CEO of Hyundai Motor Company, said: "Hyundai is dedicated to developing commercially viable, zero-emission vehicles and our agreement with UTC Fuel Cells brings us one step closer to our goal. By 2004, Hyundai will be testing and evaluating the performance of fuel cell vehicles in fleet applications, allowing us to further refine the application of fuel cells for every-day transportation."‘Tremendous Results’
Jan van Dokkum, President of UTC Power, added: "Our work with Hyundai since 2000 has achieved tremendous results in demonstrating the viability of fuel cell vehicles and specifically the performance of UTC’s fuel cell design. Hyundai has been a terrific partner and we are pleased to be extending our relationship through this agreement."
UTC Fuel Cells and Hyundai have worked together on fuel cell vehicle development since 2000, when the companies unveiled the first Hyundai Santa Fe fuel cell SUV at the California Fuel Cell Partnership opening ceremony.
A total of six Hyundai fuel cell Santa Fe prototypes were produced under the previous agreement. A Hyundai Santa Fe, powered by a UTC Fuel Cells power plant, scored best in class in efficiency and noise at the 2001 Michelin Challenge Bibendum, an annual event where new automotive technologies are evaluated by independent judges.
The goal of Hyundai’s fuel cell programme is to produce a fuel cell vehicle that appeals to consumers, is environmentally friendly and accelerates the development of a sustainable energy society.
Hyundai expects to make fuel cell vehicles available to US fleet operators as early as next year, with limited consumer availability planned for 2010.
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